Having a rival is good, as it pushes you to do your best each and every time. Having a rival who is also a friend is even better. And no one knows this better than Datuk Lee Chong Wei (李宗伟) and Lin Dan (林丹).
Everyone knows about the duo’s longstanding rivalry. They have battled it out on court, but have also been staunch supporters of each other. Even after retirement, they continue to share their lives with one another and for once, it isn’t about their beloved badminton!
After they left the badminton scene, both Lin Dan and Datuk Lee have moved on with their lives. The Malaysian player got married, had kids and continues to spend his days with his family. Datuk Lee even recently celebrated his anniversary with his wife. Lin Dan, on the other hand, has assured fans that he too is “enjoying life” after retirement.
On 16th November, Lin Dan mentioned in an interview that he still keeps up with Datuk Lee. The two friends often video call each other to catch up on each others’ lives. One major experience that they both share is becoming fathers. Apparently, Datuk Lee had once talked about the challenges of bringing up his two children during the pandemic. Lin Dan had wryly responded: “You can (handle) two, I am already tired (handling) one. It’s impressive to bring (up) two.”
When asked if he had ever gotten advice from Datuk Lee on how to parent, Lin Dan smiled. “I can (bring up a child) on my own, whether (they are a rascal) or angelic,” he said. “Boys can sometimes be a little competitive, somewhat like me.”
Lin Dan first met Datuk Lee during the 2000 Asian Youth Championship in Kyoto. Their rivalry extended over the years, all the way until Datuk Lee retired in 2019. “(Datuk Lee) was a particularly hard player,” the Chinese player shared. “Every time after I defeated him, he would have already started training. Sometimes, I don’t have time to be proud (of my achievement). People (would) have already started training to beat me the next time.”
In fact, Datuk Lee may be aiming to do just that with his children! The Malaysian badminton player recently posted a story on Instagram showing his two sons on court with a racket in hand. Both kids looked eager and engaged in the game as they tossed the shuttlecock back and forth.
The duo have clearly left their mark on history and will leave behind a rich legacy. It’s in the players who aim to follow in their footsteps and surpass them. It’s in their children with whom they share their love of badminton.
Datuk Lee is still majorly involved with the current generation of badminton stars like Lee Zii Jia. We’re sure it’s the same for Lin Dan in China. After all, they have carried the torch for so long, it’s only natural to want to nurture their successors. Who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll see a similar rivalry and friendship on the court again.